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A Closer Look at the Newest Extramural LRP Subcategory: Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (REACH)

To reflect everchanging workforce needs in the biomedical research community, NIH added a new subcategory under the Extramural LRP called the Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (REACH).  During the FY 2022 program cycle, which opened on September 1, 2021, NIH accepted REACH LRP applications for the first time.  The purpose of this new subcategory is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into research careers where there are major gaps in biomedical and biobehavioral research and expand research in emerging areas critical to human health.  Emerging areas are considered new areas of biomedical and behavioral research that are ripe for targeted investments that can have a transformative relevance and impact for years to come.

With the FY 2022 program cycle in the books, here’s a look at the numbers from the inaugural REACH LRP cohort.  There were 169 applications assigned to 21 ICs with 95 applications successfully funded from 19 ICs.  The REACH LRP subcategory received the fourth highest number of applications and awards out of the six Extramural LRP subcategories.  The success rate of 56.2% was in line with the success rate of the overall Extramural LRP (58.2%), as shown in the following table.

FY 2022 Extramural LRP

Applications, Awards, and Success Rates




Success Rate









Health Disparities








Clinical – DB












The REACH subcategory aims to provide NIH ICs with more autonomy to fund emerging research areas and target researchers who are conducting research in NIH-mission critical research areas, but do not qualify under the existing LRP subcategories.  Each NIH IC determines which emerging areas of research fit with their research priorities by publishing their own annual REACH priority statement on the LRP website.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to pay attention to the IC specific research priorities and discuss their career interests with an NIH IC scientific liaison before applying.

A breakdown of the FY 2022 REACH LRP awards shows that the following NIH Institute and Centers (ICs) funded the most awards:

NIH Institute or Center


National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases (NIAID)


National Cancer Institute (NCI)


National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)


“The results from the first REACH program cycle highlight the extraordinary efforts of applicants who are conducting research in critical areas that wouldn’t traditionally fit in the existing subcategories,” said Matthew Lockhart, M.B.A., Director, Division of Loan Repayment. “We’re thrilled to have this category that truly gives researchers an opportunity to apply and receive an LRP award.  My hope is that these results will inspire researchers out there to consider our programs now that our subcategories cast a wide net across many disciplines.”

The objective of the NIH LRPs is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals to careers in biomedical or biobehavioral research. Qualified health professionals who are engaging in NIH mission-relevant research for at least 20 hours per week at a nonprofit or government institution may be eligible to apply to one of the extramural LRP subcategories:

  • Clinical Research: Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects;
  • Pediatric Research: Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children;
  • Health Disparities Research: Research that focuses on minority and other health disparity populations;
  • Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health: Designed to recruit and retain researchers pursuing major opportunities or gaps in emerging areas of human health;
  • Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds: Available to clinical investigators from disadvantaged backgrounds; and
  • Contraception and Infertility Research: Research on conditions impacting the ability conceive and bear young.

The period to apply for FY 2024 LRP awards opens on September 1, 2023, and closes on November 16, 2023.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to review each IC Mission and Research Priorities statement and then contact one or more IC scientific LRP liaisons to discuss their research and career interests as it relates to the research and funding priorities of the selected IC.  Research and funding priorities can change yearly, so it is important that applicants contact a liaison – ideally in advance of the opening of the application cycle – to ensure appropriate understanding of IC priorities.  The list of NIH IC scientific LRP liaisons can be found here:

For additional assistance, call or e-mail the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 (Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST) or You can also follow the NIH Division of Loan Repayment on Twitter and Facebook for more information about the LRP, including program announcements and updates.

By: Omar McCrimmon, M.A.
Date: January 26, 2023